Severe child abuse: a study of cases reported to the police
Version of Record online: 11 OCT 2007
Volume 96, Issue 12, pages 1760–1764, December 2007
How to Cite
Annerbäck, E.-M., Lindell, C., Svedin, C. and Gustafsson, P. (2007), Severe child abuse: a study of cases reported to the police. Acta Paediatrica, 96: 1760–1764. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00519.x
- Issue online: 12 NOV 2007
- Version of Record online: 11 OCT 2007
- Received 5 February 2007; revised 10 August 2007; accepted 16 August 2007.
- Child maltreatment;
- Child physical abuse;
- Social services
Aim: To investigate the characteristics of severe abuse of children and possible differences in comparison with less severe abuse.
Method: Cases of abuse reported to the police within a single police district (n = 142) in Sweden were studied. The severe cases were compared to all the remaining cases.
Results: Severe abuse constituted 14% of the total cases and was reported by agencies to a greater degree than minor cases. The suspected perpetrators were socially disadvantaged people in both groups. Half of the most serious cases led to conviction in the courts, compared to 8% in the reference group. The children who had been subjected to abuse were often already known to social services and reports of child abuse had frequently been made.
Conclusion: In comparison between cases of severe and minor child abuse reported to the police, the results did not show any crucial differences except the pattern of reporting and a higher occurrence of prosecution/conviction in the severe cases. This finding places a responsibility on agencies outside of the justice system to consider all cases of reported abuse as serious warning signals and to make independent evaluations to identify risks and the possible need for child protection.